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Football coverage at a weekly

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by young-gun11, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    I'm sure some of you have been there, done that before. I wonder how some of you covered football at weeklies? I am of the opinion when a game is a week old, it's old news. We have a daily who covers these games, and I can't seem to rationalize giving full coverage of a game six days old.

    Has anyone else just written preview stories with pictures and results from the previous week?

    Maybe a "hybrid" story previewing the next game while still recapping last week's action?

    I just can't decide. The previous reporters have basically been doing recaps and no previews. I just think it's a little silly.
  2. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    WE put gamers online, wrote a feature on a key drive or something and previewed the next game. It was good journalism, but it went over horribly. The readers got pissed that they couldn't read gamers in the paper because there wasn't anywhere else to read them.
    Basically, you have to get a feel for your community. I like the gamer online, preview in the paper model.
  3. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    This is a good model. I know most of these people grab the daily, but there isn't a huge article about the game. Just a sort of roundup with some names. Hardly ever any pictures. So, I am thinking pictures and a hybrid article, focused on the preview. I will certainly do gamers online, though, good idea.
  4. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    I think you have to go with the gamers on the web and then come out of every game with a second-day story that will hold up for the next print deadline. Take some element of the last game and do a story focused on it. For instance, the team ran up a bunch of points because the O-line dominated the line of scrimmage. So do something on the linemen ... who they are, how they train, how the unit has come together. It allows you to work in a few details on the game -- who scored the TDs, etc. -- and then you can transition into a preview of the next game. If the upcoming game is a significant one -- top two teams in the league, or something like that -- then you can do a straight preview.

    One of my former editors used to always say they play the games to give us something to write about, and that means more than just regurgitating the facts of the game. This is especially important when you're at a weekly. You don't want to leave a football game with nothing but a straight game story. You should come out of it with at least one more. It's just a matter of being observant and noticing what's there for you to say about the team.
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I'd shoot myself if I had to cover football in January for a weekly.
  6. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I mean, it would suck and be cold, but football is football.
  7. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    You have the right idea.

    That is exactly how I approach it., Hit the high points of the previous week and how they relate to next week. Your readers may not know how the other team did, so recap their game. Call the opposing coach.

    Rhody: I am with you.
  8. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    If readers insist on some sort of game coverage in the paper, make the game from a week ago, the sidebar (4-5 inches with the nuts and bolts). And do a preview/feature/game element as your mainbar.
  9. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Eight things I recommend, if space, time and staff permit and if they make sense in your community:

    1. Run as much high school varsity agate as you can get your hands on.

    2. Run a high school sports schedule. Always run a schedule.

    3. Post gamers online within three or four hours of a game ending, if not sooner, and make sure you promote that coverage in the print edition. These don't have to be long; 300-400 words is fine. And they can be loaded with play-by-play and quotes.

    4. Run a few paragraphs from each game story in a roundup spot in the print edition. This would be a great feature for Page 2. Keep it in the same spot every week, and if you can package it with the agate, that's great.

    5. Try to have one profile feature on a local player per issue. Ideally, it would be great to go to practice and take a special photograph or two of that player, if your photographers are any good. These would give you a chance to shine as a writer.

    6. Preview games using capsules and stories. The more previews you can fit, the better. This approach really varies depending on how many high schools you cover. Pick the biggest game or games of the week for the cover, but run a refer box with a line on each other game you preview and the page the story is on.

    7. When you have actual news, play it up big. When the state association changes a tournament format or a team moves up a level, that's your chance shine as a reporter. And communication is often poor around communities on the details of these kinds of changes. And metro papers often don't give these stories the play they deserve.

    8. If you're given enough space to cover high schools well, then you really should try to do at least one thing that isn't squarely about high school sports. A few ideas: catching up with former local athletes, this week in __your town___ sports history, local club or adult-league spotlight, etc. That will pull in readers who don't care much about the high schools. But avoid writing your own content on national sports. Avoid even writing about Big State U., unless you're covering those games.
  10. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Just want to note that many, many weeklies will totally not be on board with the posting of gamers online. That they SHOULD be is usually irrelevant.
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The twice-weekly I was at was nothing but game coverage and the SE was lauded for his great coverage, which was nothing more than having two gamers in the paper, plus editing what coaches sent in.
  12. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    This was super helpful, man. Really appreciate it.

    I am covering a couple semi-pro teams this spring/summer is why I asked about their coverage. And, yes, they are worth the coverage.
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